Israel, Gaza militants exchange fire for third day: 25 dead – Digital Journal

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepts rockets launched from Gaza City, in Sderot, on May 10, 2023 – Copyright AFP Arun SANKAR


Militants from Israel and Gaza exchanged more fire early Thursday, the third day of the worst escalation of violence since the middle of last year over the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Israeli airstrikes and missiles have killed 25 Palestinians since Tuesday, Gaza officials said, including fighters and civilians, including several children.

Early Thursday morning, shops in Gaza were shuttered and streets largely abandoned as Israeli military jets flew over the territory where several buildings lay in ruins.

More than 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Tuesday, the army said, with no casualties reported in Israel so far.

Of these, 368 crossed the border and 154 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while 110 fell inside Gaza, it said.

The Islamic Jihad militant group told AFP that rockets were fired again at Israel around 9:00 am (0600 GMT).

Islamic Jihad confirmed that it has lost four military leaders in attacks in recent days, the most recent being Ali Ghali, commander of a rocket launch unit.

Another militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said four of its fighters had been killed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a television address Wednesday night that “we are still in the middle of the campaign” and “fiercely attacking the Gaza Strip.”

“We tell the terrorists and those who send them: we see them everywhere, they cannot hide, and we choose the place and the moment to hit them.”

– ‘Climbing wave’ –

In the Al-Rimal district of Gaza City, Mamoun Radi, 48, said: “We hope the wave of escalation will end, but we support revenge for the martyrs.

“Israel assassinated a (Islamic) Jihad leader early today because it doesn’t want calm.”

Throughout southern Israel, sirens sounded intermittently through the night and into Thursday morning.

Miriam Keren, 78, an Ashkelon resident, said a rocket from Gaza destroyed a workshop and damaged her home.

“All the shrapnel is in the room, the house shook very hard, the glass fell, the walls were damaged,” he told AFP.

“Luckily I have a safe room and I went in immediately and closed the door.

“This is not the first time the house has been hit, but I am not afraid, not yesterday either. You are surprised for a moment, but it is not about fear. It is more unpleasant, very unpleasant”.

– Ceasefire efforts –

Egypt has been “trying to facilitate a ceasefire,” an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity, an effort confirmed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials who gave no further details.

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanou said on Wednesday that “the attacks by the unified resistance are part of the process of responding to the massacre committed by (Israel).”

The Arab League has condemned the “barbaric Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip, targeting civilians, children and women in residential neighborhoods.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reaffirmed Washington’s “strong support for Israel’s security.”

Both Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Islamic Jihad are considered terrorist groups by Israel and the United States.

This week’s clashes in Gaza are the worst since a three-day escalation in August that killed 49 Palestinians, with no Israeli casualties.

Violence has also erupted in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli army has carried out repeated raids against militants that have often erupted into street clashes or gun battles.

The conflict has intensified since veteran leader Netanyahu returned to power late last year at the head of a coalition of far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Israel has also been rocked by its biggest internal political crisis in decades, as mass protests erupted against plans to reform the justice system, led by Netanyahu, who also faces corruption charges in the courts.

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